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BUBBA The two-time Masters champ drives support for wounded veterans at The Club at Ravenna

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A Masterful Salute Bubba Watson comes to The Club at Ravenna in support of the Infinite Hero Foundation. By Jon Rizzi

P H O T O G R A P H O F S AVAT O R E G I U N TA BY

H

E’S BEEN CALLED the first genuine folk hero since John Daly, a Florida Panhandler who never took a formal golf lesson yet has twice won the sport’s most prestigious tournament. Pay no mind to how those green jackets would clash with the shirtless overalls he sported as a “Golf Boy.” Never meanin’ no harm, he actually bought a signed, original Dukes of Hazzard “General Lee”—complete with the stars and bars—and last year in Phoenix he hovercrafted above fairways, sand and water and all over the internet. He’s a teetotaling Christian husband and father of two adopted children who hits a pink driver 330 yards and Tweets to 1.5 million followers. Like Jack, Phil, Rory and Tiger, he’s identified by one name: Bubba. What’s not to like? Well, there are cynics who question whether Bubba Watson is less of a good ol’ boy and more of a good ol’ brand. But whatever your feelings about his authenticity, he comes by his affection and respect for our military men and women honestly. They’re hardwired into his DNA. Those feelings no doubt stem from his growing up in Bagdad— Florida, that is—where his late father, a Green Beret and Vietnam veteran, taught his 6-year-old son how to play the game that would change his life. We saw Bubba wear his emotions on his short-sleeve at the 2011 U.S. Open, when he played in camouflage pants, a star-spangledbelt-buckle and an army green shirt in support of military outreach. We also saw him form, with his wife Angie, the Bubba Watson Foundation, which emphasizes helping “the physical, spiritual, and social development of children, young adults and those associated with the U.S. Military.” And on July 27, 88 lucky golfers will get to see Bubba’s commitment in full swing at The Club at Ravenna in Littleton. The longest hitter on the PGA Tour will join Medal of Honor Recipient Salvatore Guinta as the guests of honor at the 2nd Annual Ravenna Invitational Supporting Infinite Hero Foundation. Bubba will do an exhibition for all in attendance before the 11 a.m. shotgun start. He’ll then play six holes each with three foursomes that have each paid $25,000 for the privilege (at press time, one remained available). After golf, he, Giunta and the event’s co-chairman, former Army paratrooper and Ravenna club member Neil Duncan, will hold a “fireside chat” that promises to be more inspiring than

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watching Bubba drive Ravenna’s 369-yard opening hole. In 2010, Giunta, a former United States Army sergeant now living in Fort Collins, became the first living person since the Vietnam War HONORED GUEST: Savatore Giunta.

to receive the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest decoration for valor. During a lethal October 25, 2007 ambush in Afghanistan, Giunta saved the lives of numerous squad members. His wellreceived memoir, Living with Honor, rates as one of the most raw and compelling accounts written about the longest war in U.S. history. Duncan has an equally inspiring story. In 2005, while serving in Afghanistan in the same 173rd airborne unit as Giunta, he lost both of his legs in an IED explosion. With the help of intense rehabilitation and prosthetics, Duncan has summited the tallest peaks on three continents—Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa) and Denali (North America)—and plays golf at Ravenna. “Golf is a great sport for rehab,” he says. “It’s peaceful and it involves a lot of critical aspects of core strength, balance and traversing difficult terrain.” An MBA from the University of Denver, Duncan is also one of 10 members on the grant committee for the event’s beneficiary, the Infinite Hero Foundation. With Oakley, Inc., as its founding corporate partner, the three-year-old foundation has already granted $2 million to companies and programs that drive innovation, accessibility and effective treatments for military heroes and families struggling with service-related mental and physical injuries. Three of the 10 recipients thus far are the rehabilitative Vail Veterans Program, Rebuilding America’s Warriors (R.A.W.) and the Airpower Foundation, which July 2015 | Colorado AvidGolfer

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RISING UP: Paralyzed veteran Gary Linfoot walks with his exoskeleton.

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created the Ekso Bionics exoskeleton worn last year by paralyzed fighter pilot Gary Linfoot at Ravenna’s inaugural Infinite Hero Invitational. “To watch him rise up from the chair, stand up and walk was such a moving experience for everyone,” remembers Ravenna Managing Partner Kevin Collins. “He never thought he would be able to see anyone eyeto-eye again.” With his father, father-in-law and son all Marines, Collins has a special connection to the military. “We cannot support our veterans enough for their service and sacrifice to our country,” he says. “Due to the importance

of the cause and its initial suc- Ravenna and Bubba Watson to help contincess (last year’s event, which ue our progress and commitment to driving came together in less than two change and long term solutions to improve months and featured keynote the lives of veterans across America,” says speaker Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, Oakley CEO Colin Baden, who founded raised almost $100,0000) we are Infinite Hero after becoming increasingly committed to making this The frustrated by the lack of resources available Club at Ravenna’s flagship char- to help returning military personnel. Oakley’s commitment is more than just ity event.” Collins can also take pride good publicity. In addition to outfitting golfin having a flagship club at ers like Bubba, the Southern California-headwhich to hold it. After surviv- quartered company has for decades opering the recession, the club has ated an innovative, forward-thinking tactical experienced a renaissance at division. Working with Special Operations its 634-acre property near Wa- forces and other military personnel, Oakley terton Canyon. Subtle HERO SHOTS: Ravenna’s epic layout will challenge the 88 massaging to a numplayers in the the club’s signature charity event. ber of holes have made the eye-popping Jay Morrish-designed golf course more playable than ever, and sales on the membership and luxury real estate fronts have been brisk. “We are honored to have the support of likeminded partners like The Club at


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down the track, the retired Air Force sergeant carries an Infinite Hero Foundation challenge coin, which he then signs with the track location and speed of the pass. For a $100 donation, fans can purchase one in his pit area or at the Oakley trailer. Coincidentally, on Sunday, July 26, the day before Ravenna’s 2nd Annual Infinite Hero Invitational, Beckman will be racing just 16 miles north (about four minutes at 320 INFINITE WISDOM: Neil Duncan, Jerry Boykin, Mari and Gary Linfoot mph) at Bandimere Speedway and Kevin Collins (left to right) at last year’s inaugural event. in the 36th Mopar Mile-High has developed numerous technologies and NHRA Nationals. He and his Infinite Hero products to improve the safety, performance funny car will appear at Ravenna the followand comfort of the gear worn by the men ing day. and women whose lives depend on it. So will Bubba Watson. After all, the “GenTo raise awareness and funding for Infi- eral Lee” is a Dodge Charger, too. Seriously, nite Hero, Oakley has created special-edition though, as Kevin Collins says, “It’s pretty products bearing the foundation’s purple em- exciting to have someone of his caliber blem. And thanks to a generous donation from come to Ravenna. He has made time in his NHRA super-sponsor Terry Chandler, racing schedule. His support and interest levels in fans can also see the emblem throughout the supporting this cause and event have been 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing season on the extremely positive.” CAG Infinite Hero 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger driven by “Fast Jack” Beckman. On each pass Jon Rizzi is the editor of Colorado AvidGolfer.

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BRANDED BANDS: Hand-rolled at last year’s event.

2ND ANNUAL RAVENNA INVITATIONAL SUPPORTING INFINITE HERO FOUNDATION DATE & TIME: July 27, 2015 at 11:00 A.M. WHERE: The Club at Ravenna 11118 Caretaker Rd, Littleton COST: $5,000 per foursome (All money goes to the Infinite Hero Foundation, a 501[c][3] charitable organization). CONTACT: Anna Fine: 720-956-1600; afine@ravennagolf.com MORE INFORMATION: ravennagolf.com or infinitehero.org

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Colorado AvidGolfer July 2015 Cover Story: "A Masterful Salute"  
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